The NaNoWriMo Path

When I'm wearing the hat,
don't bother me - it's NaNo time!

Hello! I’m zenWriter42. I haven’t committed to NaNo 2016…yet. I’m juggling what amounts to four part-time jobs right now, including teaching four college writing classes, and the hours just aren’t there. But since I first discovered National Novel Writing Month in 2005, after reading Chris Baty’s No Plot, No Problem!, I’ve been a devoted fan and evangelist.

My 2005 NaNo effort became the basis for my creative writing thesis; my 2006 draft, after many rewrites, edits and revisions, was released by Deadly Writes Publishing as my debut novel Forty & Out in 2014. In addition, I’ve published a number short stories, several anthologized personal essays, and a non-fiction history book. NaNo was not the end for me, only the beginning. It gave me the confidence to push forward with my writing, knowing I really could finish a novel-length manuscript.

After a few years’ hiatus to finish college (undergrad completion in 2008 after 30 years’ effort, followed by grad school), I returned to NaNo in 2011. Not only did I make it to the 50K, but I wrote a personal-best 9,800 words in one day and completed the first draft of a new novel (as a NaNo rebel, I started the month with the beginnings of a manuscript). And it wasn’t a rambling, fill-up-the-page lorem ipsum text either; it was a story that worked, albeit still needing much revision – as any NaNo effort does! Incidentally, I just finished this week, and continue my hunt for the elusive agent (even though I work with a wonderful small press).

Because I’ve pushed myself to work through NaNo, cheered on by the fantastic online moderators and community of writers, my stories have evolved more consistently, new characters have appeared and vanished, some have died when I didn’t think they could (I write crime fiction, so that’s a good thing!), the bad guy who maybe wasn’t turned out to be even more so while the clueless puppet had me fooled, sub-plots I never considered before have crept in, my MCs have learned lessons I didn’t know they needed. What a joy ride!

As you can guess from that ramble, I’m a confirmed pantser. How anyone writes a novel from an outline I’ll never understand. But as blogger Jami Gold once said to those who are bombarded with conflicting “expert” opinion on the publishing end of writing, “Every one of us has a different path to success because we each have our own definition of success…”

If the path of NaNoWriMo works for you as it did for me, take it.

C.L. (Cyndi) Pauwels

*Parts of this were excerpted from earlier posts on my old blog:


  1. Very inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you all the best in every endeavor.

  2. Thank you for guest blogging. I appreciate your incite and encouragement.


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